The law is silent on how you must protect your eyes. There is no compulsion for you to ride with goggles or visor, but if you do wear eye protection it must meet BS 4110.

What is eye protection?

The definition of eye protector would, for example, rule out my favoured method of eye protection which is a photochromic visor (definitely not lawful) with a pair of Screwfix special offer clear lens eye protector glasses on underneath my helmet. This method is unlawful on two counts.

The first is a visor must let through a minimum of 50% of light – which means anything darker than a very mild smoke effect will not meet the British Standard, so will not have a kitemark and therefore will not meet the 1999 regulations which govern motorcycle eye protection.

The second is my Screwfix specials, I like to be able to flick up my visor – which will usually be dark as it is photochromic, but still have eye protection. It is a lot easier to flick up a visor as I enter a tunnel or go into an area of shade than to attempt to fish out sunglasses whilst wearing gloves.

Also, if I am riding in town, I would rather have my visor up for air flow, but still not be fishing small invertebrates out of my eyes. However, the law says an ‘eye protector’ means an appliance designed or adapted for use with any headgear or by being attached to or placed upon the head by a person driving or riding on a motor bicycle and intended for the protection of the eyes – so my safety specs are not BS4110 compliant so I commit a further offence. If my safety specs had prescription lenses, no problem. But they don’t.

However, in all my years of having this set up, which I use for road riding and green laning, and having had numerous and thus far good-natured interactions with the police, this has never caused me any problem. Why? Because the police, up to and including gold braid on their hats level, know the 1999 regulations are silly.

It is a largely unpoliced law which until fairly recently even the Association of Chief Police Officers recommended ‘words of advice’ be given. If I ride with a dark visor at night then I would most definitely expect a pull and a fine but the magic of photochromic visors means that will not happen, it is up there with the ignored laws such as it being an offence to beat or shake your rugs before 8am within the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police.


If you need to ride in spectacles to correct vision then your spectacles need not meet BS4110 standards as the intention of the spectacles is to correct vision rather than protect. So while the law is strict – your visor must meet BS4110 and your visor or goggles must have a kitemark (and most MX goggles don’t) it is unenforced.

And, in close to 30 years of legal practice, a non-compliant visor has come up twice as an issue, in both instances the judge and the Coroner deciding a dark visor in sunny conditions as no more relevant than driving in sunglasses so of no consequence.

Andrew Dalton

Bike Magazine November 2021